The May 11Th Symphony Cruise to the Western Caribbean was simply AMAZING! The ship was clean and breathtakingly huge. My biggest compliment goes out to the staff. Not only was all the staff kind, considerate and helpful they truly gave me the impression they loved working there. I studied all the blogs prior to sailing and was a little worrisome due to some of the critiques. Based on the size and complexity of this ship some details will always arise but when looking at the big picture any negatives were most certainly outweighed by the overall amazing experience.
Pick and pay for what you want.
Many have said RCCL is nickel and diming for everything. True, they do have many things which they charge for additional fees. My wife and I looked at this as a positive. With the proper up-front planning we were able to customize the perfect cruise for what we wanted. For us we are not big drinkers, but we do love fancy food and activities. So we researched and purchased the appropriate options for our cruise. We purchased the KEY, waterpark admission and the Unlimited Dining Packages. These packages worked perfectly for us but for other people the choices can and should be completely different based on your preferences. Unfortunately, having all these options available these days does create the burden of doing some homework prior to the cruise. Decide what is important to you and choose those options. Most importantly and sometimes very confusing, decipher what these packages truly offer. Make sure you are aware of limitations but most importantly learn what all the features enable you to do. I talked to so many people on the ship and they only knew half the features. For an example if you have the Key you do not have to charge your SeaPass card and then show it again upon return. Not a big deal but knowing all the features can make your cruise that much more enjoyable.
Activities on the Symphony:
I remember many, many years ago winning the most “Ship Shape Dollars” on the cruise. Now, in my early 50’s, I think we could have still won if they had them. My wife and I are not the ones who like to sit around the pool and drink Pina Coladas all day (Not that there is anything wrong with that). While in port or at Sea, the activities the Symphony offers seem endless. Excursions: RCCL offers a fantastic variety of excursions for all different tastes. My rule of thumb is if the excursion will create a good lasting memory then it is worth doing. We did Zip Lining in Roatan, walked the port shops in Costa Maya, Dune Buggy ride in Cozumel and Perfect Day at Coco Cay (Water Park and snorkeling). All the excursions were good; however, Coco Cay was Amazing. Kudos to RCCL for creating an Island which blows all other private islands out of the water (pun intended). My wife and I are from Florida and we love and go to many waterparks. Although, not the largest park we have been to, it was certainly much more than what I would have expected on an Island in the middle of the Bahamas. Once again, an awesome staff is everywhere assisting and the best private island complimentary food I have ever had. On Board Activities: There is always something to do on this ship even on port days. There are so many activities that my wife and I did I am simply going to list them and if anyone wants detailed info please let me know. Rock Climbing – several times and many different difficulty routes. Zip Line – short and sweet but on cruise ship so cool! Miniature Golf – fun, everything works and very clean. Escape Room – my first time and we did it with 2 minutes to spare, the family we were with have done several before and they said this was the best. The shows – spectacular! We saw them all and would suggest you do the same. Trivia etc. – We love the trivia and what I call the cruise games. The Venue could have been a little bigger although this could have been the fact that the staff was so funny and entertaining it was always packed to the doors. The Abyss – A dry water slide; who would have thought they could make it so smooth and exhilarating. The ship tours – We did the galley tour with brunch; super informative, very organized and interesting. The brunch was superb. The best for last; The Flowrider – This was the first time my wife and I tried this and it was so much fun. The staff blew me away with how helpful and patient they were. By the end of the cruise I really got the hang of it and little sore from all the epic fails. Lol. If you are on the fence to try it out my suggestion is to Just do it. It was a blast!
Food, Food and more Food
My wife and I purchased the Unlimited Dining package and it were so worth it to us. Unfortunately, this gives us little opportunity to comment on the Windjammer buffet or the Main Dining room. I highly recommend getting this package. I can give more detailed information on each restaurant and their menu if asked. Overall, the food and the staff were fantastic. Keep the expectation you are on ship and they can only get provisions once a week and you will happily surprised. We never had a bad meal and quite often had an exceptional meal. We loved the wait staff. For daytime food I recommend the beef sandwich for lunch in the Park Café, El Loco Taco and breakfast in Johnny Rockets. Also, the breakfast buffet in the Solarium seemed to be less crowded but then again, we were early risers. We tried EVERYTHING. We were not pigs. We tried small samples of many items and many places. Some items and places were good, and others were amazing. Even the pizza was very good which was unusual for a ship. Super fantastic food and people, who could ask for more.
The Key Package
We paid $20/day for the Key at initial offering. Due to my sometimes “OCD” tendencies it was worth it to us. Simply put it just made some stresses disappear. Based on your preferences for a cruise it is your personal decision and it may not worth it to you. Check out all the features and make the determination.
Staff and Service
From the moment to being assisted with our luggage in the parking garage to the end with the same guys bringing our luggage right to the car we felt like catered Kings and Queens. The staff on the ship was courteous, fun, energetic and informative. I am not sure who the motivational speaker RCCL used on this ship prior to departure but it worked! I felt everyone went out of their way to make our experience memorable. I don’t think we met one grumpy staff member the entire cruise. We have been on other Cruises including Disney and I would rank this staff by far the best. The sports staff was having just as much fun as we were. The wait staff would encounter some truly stressful situations and never loose their smiles. I think my room steward slept outside our door because he was always welcoming us upon exiting and entering our cabin in the hall with a cute “Hi Mr. John”. We also found the app on our phones to be extremely accurate and it helped us navigate from one activity to the next without error. What a great job RCCL, for understanding that a quaint little smile and a “how can I help you” is the magic to success. Kudos!
We would highly recommend RCCL and the Symphony.